Thomas J. Donohue Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


February 27, 2017


After a relentless, eight-year regulatory onslaught that loaded unprecedented burdens on businesses and the economy, relief is finally on the way. The president and leaders in Congress have quickly made good on campaign pledges to rein in the regulatory state.

President Trump promptly halted most pending regulations until the administration has a chance to review them and signed an executive order to slash current rules and their costs. He also issued executive orders to begin finding ways to relieve burdensome requirements from some of the most sweeping Obama-era actions, including the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, and the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule. Significant executive orders to unravel major environmental regulations are also expected soon. These early and aggressive actions show he’s serious about reform.

Congress is taking bold action too. Lawmakers exercised their authority to review and rescind many recent rules using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The Obama administration issued an estimated 38 major rules after President Trump’s election in November. Under the CRA, Congress has already repealed the Department of Interior’s Stream Buffer Rule, which threatened to severely restrict access to domestic coal resources. The House also passed the Venting and Flaring Rule, which stunted our energy revolution with unnecessary restrictions on oil and natural gas production. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will continue to push lawmakers to use the CRA to undo ill-conceived 11th hour rules.

Some of the worst regulations of the last eight years are tied up in the judicial system. As a result of aggressive engagement by the business community and its allies, many of these rules have been temporarily or permanently enjoined by the courts. And with a new administration, there’s an opportunity to withdraw or modify those rules.

While this progress is welcome and badly needed, regulatory relief alone is not enough. We also need to reform the system itself. In the opening days of the 115th Congress, the House passed the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would update our regulatory system for the first time in 70 years. This legislation would increase scrutiny on the rules with the highest costs and the greatest impact and demand more transparency and accountability. We’re pushing the Senate to quickly follow suit.

The Chamber has long fought back against overregulation—and for smart, balanced regulation—for a simple reason: A heavy-handed regulatory approach stokes uncertainty, repels investment, stalls hiring, and suffocates growth. Now that the government is starting to get out of the way, businesses can focus on what they do best—creating jobs and growing the economy.

Note: this article previously stated that "Congress has already repealed ... the Venting and Flaring Rule," which it has not. This has been corrected.

About the authors

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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